As of this morning, Greater Duneland had braved pretty well Hurricane
Sandy’s Great Lakes blowback.
But wind speeds were forecast to increase this afternoon and right now it’s
anybody’s guess just how badly eroded the wave-pounded beaches are, because
at the moment they’re under water.
Begin with power outages. At 10:30 a.m. the Northern Indiana Public Service
Company was reporting a total of 4,863 customers in the dark, with better
than a quarter of them—1,557—in the Duneland area.
Other areas with large numbers of juiceless customers: Michigan City, with
1,938; Gary, with 300; LaPorte, with 298; Portage, with 258; and Valparaiso,
Actual wind damage, however, appeared to be light in Duneland. Chesterton
Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg reported a small limb down in the area
of 18th Street and Wood Street. “Other than that we haven’t had any real
damage,” he said. “Obviously our hazard-tree removal program is working.”
David James, assistant superintendent of the Porter County Highway
Department, told much the same story. “A few trees down, that’s all,” he
A minor brush fire was caused around 8 a.m. when downed power lines in the
area of Meridian Road and C.R. 1050N arced and ignited some vegetation, Sgt.
Larry LaFlower of the Porter County Sheriff’s Police told the Chesterton
Tribune. But the Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department responded
quickly to the scene, he said.
Both Schnadenberg and James agreed, though, that the situation would have
been considerably different even a month ago, when trees were mostly still
leaved. Those leaves tend to catch the wind and act like sails, torquing and
twisting the limbs. “If the leaves were still on the trees, we’d have had a
lot more damage,” Schnadenberg said.
In Porter, meanwhile, the focus is on Porter Beach, which was being
violently lashed by high waves. Public Works Director Brenda Brueckheimer
said that so far the barricades placed along the turn-around, in the area of
State Street, have done a good job keeping the sand from drifting and piling
into the roadways.
“Hopefully, we don’t get those 60 mile per hour gusts they’re talking about”
later in the day, Brueckheimer said.
At Indiana Dunes State Park, the water was approximately two-thirds of the
way above its normal level in front of the Pavilion, Property Manager Brandt
Baughman said. “But the rest of the beach is completely under water. I would
say we do have some concerns about beach erosion but we can’t really tell
anything at this point because the beach is submerged.”
“It’s just absolutely brutal down there,” Baughman added.
This morning a high wind warning was in effect until 7 p.m. today, with
strong northerly winds possibly gusting up to 60 mph near the Dunes
shoreline before easing this evening, the National Weather Service said.
Those winds could stack waves of 22 to 27 feet in height, with likely beach
erosion and likely lakeshore flooding.
Winds could continue to gust between 35 and 40 mph on Wednesday, keeping
waves in the 13 to 18 foot range.
Parking Lots at
The high waves and potential flooding prompted the National Park Service
(NPS) after deadline on Monday to close its parking lots at the Porter
Beach, Mt. Baldy, and Central Ave. access points in Indiana Dunes National
The Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site was kept open but the beach,
breakwater, and riverwalk areas were closed.
“Visitors are urged to use caution on park trails and other shoreline
locations due to high winds and the possibility of falling trees and
branches,” NPS said.